Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Numbers Game

Consider some recent polling data on support for same-sex marriage:

CBS News (conducted March 20-24)
Support:   53%
Oppose:   39%

CNN (conducted  March 15-17)
Support :   53%
Oppose:    44%

Now,  consider support for  an assault weapons ban:

Quinnipiac University (conducted February 27 - March 4)
Support:   54%
Oppose:    41%

ABC News (conducted March 7 – 10)
Support:   57%
Oppose:   41%

These numbers are close, but on same-sex marriage we are making progress while we are getting slaughtered on gun control.

What gives?

Taking a peek at the efforts of our opponents is instructive. Since January 1, 2013, the four largest Tea Party organizations fired off 48 email alerts on gun control. Among the frothy subject lines:

*”Top Secret” Gun Grabber’s Meeting
*Bang Bang
*Government Arming Up
*Home Inspections for Assault Weapons
*2nd Amendment Mom Attacked

How many alerts did these organizations send in opposition to same-sex marriage since January 1?


The GOP is slowly pushing opposition to same-sex marriage off their to-do lists. We are winning, by and large, in the absence of much organized opposition.  Karl Rove is popping up on network television predicting future GOP presidential candidates will support same-sex marriage, and in the last month, GOP Senators Rob Portman of Ohio and Mark Kirk of Illinois joined the ranks of same-sex marriage proponents. Meanwhile, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has hinted that her views are "evolving." The dominoes are falling. Mr. Rove understands that the single most important demographic driving support for same-sex marriage is AGE. It is more important than party or religious affiliation. In that CBS News poll cited above, 73% of Americans 18-29 years old support same-sex marriage, compared to just 35% of adults 65 or older. Time is not on the side of our GOP opponents.

Focus on the Family and a smattering of other right-wing  groups do still float anti same-sex marriage initiatives on state ballots, but we now have enough public support to vote them down. It is important to note that not all "evangelicals" actively oppose same-sex marriage. There are divides within religious ranks; the megachurch movement in particular is pretty agnostic on the issue, choosing neutrality in this particular Culture War battle.

On gun control, conversely, we face a dedicated, focused opposition while we are an amorphous mess. Organization trumps polling numbers. We delight in mocking the NRA, citing the ridiculous statements by CEO Wayne LaPierre. We call him "nuts." History will call him "winner."

This isn't to imply that same-sex marriage is a slam dunk. We are stuck working on a state by state basis, and it is far easier to legalize same-sex marriage in Massachusetts than in Alabama. With gun control, it's national, but demographics don't play in our favor. Liberals are piled up on both coasts. All those conservative districts between DC and San Francisco keep us from getting 60 votes in the Senate or a majority in the House.

To win on gun control, we need to get both noisy and busy. Write letters to the editor. Urge Senator Harry Reid to bring the assault weapons ban to the floor for a vote. Write your Congressional representatives. Call the Republican National Committee and tell them you are finished with their party until they adopt a rational stand on this very crucial "family values" issue. The odds are long, but unlike same-sex marriage, those pulling numbers will not grow stronger over time. Support for reasonable gun control will slip the longer we go without another horrific slaughter.  

Do we have the will to make a difference?

1 comment:

  1. Great examples of two issues that blow up the "traditional" conservative-liberal divide. Looks like the small government/individual responsibility/libertarian side is winning in both cases.